An intimate crowd gathered on the grass and stoned walkways a few blocks away from the National Mall between Pennsylvania Avenue and Fourth Street, in Northwest for the 12th annual National Black L.U.V. Festival, Sunday.
L.U.V. is an acronym for the words love, unity, and vision and serves as the festival’s motto.
The Black L.U.V. Festival began in 1997 with a group of U Street veterans who wanted to expand their love of culture and unify “brothers” and “sisters” in the District.
More than a decade later, Washingtonians of all nationalities and visitors to the District joined to celebrate and learn about African-American health and culture, and enjoy a wealth of arts and entertainment. “I’m enjoying it,” said Cintrese Stewart, a member of Visitor Service at the Newseum. She came to the festival on her lunch break after her boss informed her about it. “I think it’s great that they are getting together African-Americans to embrace each other. I wish we could do this more often.”
Chioma Rouh was at the festival selling papers for the Black is Back Coalition where she serves as an outreach coordinator. She has attended the festival for five years.
“It is a positive experience,” Rouh said. “You see freedom transform into unity and then love.”
Black August Planning Organization’s member, Jabari Zakiya, encougraged people to buy magazines and newspapers about imprisoned or exiled black leaders who are fighting for freedom.
“The festival gives us a chance to promote good ideas, but it should definitely be more people down here,” Zakiya said.
Several local acts performed including hip-hop group The Package and speakers included BET’s Jamil White and award winners Elaine Brown and Roxanne Shante.
Following a poem and before perfoming his song, Hakim Green spoke to the crowd about 9/11.
“I love black people but I can’t stand George Bush,” said Green. “I keep it real. I figure I’m in DC so I’mma keep it political.”
Gahdiliel, owner of The Artist Cabin Entertainment Company in Takoma Park sat on a bench behind the stage applauding and speaking with artists after they finished their sets.
“I love this event,” Gahdiliel said. “There are a lot of good artists and a lot of it is consciousness coming from artists with a positive message for our people.”
“It’s pretty good to see our people vibing together,” said Asa Wilson, of Virginia. “I wouldn’t mind seeing more people though.” Along with entertainment the festival offered HIV/AIDS Testing and a host of interactive activities for children and adults.
Seven-year old Olufela Pyne, ran around after getting his face painted and just feet away Myra Martin, member of DC Retro Jumpers, an excercising group for older women, jumped with a single rope while double-dutching.
“This was nice,” Wilson said as he got up to leave. “The festival is always a good and I’m sure more people would agree.”